Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ground level research

Ground-level research

I have to applaud Thomas Mann's "Research at Risk" (LJ 7/05, p. 38–40) and encourage everyone to give copies of it to ground-level librarians. Less is more, not better, in the case of online topic research. Yes, more comprehensive subject indexes are what all researchers need. But, instead of using the high-speed and at times sophisticated search engine Google, ground-level librarians are required to give credence to the rich meaning of subject headings. Less is most definitely more! Good instances of this are where you find a book by notes or citations in the MARC record. Keyword searches in Google can't do this. Friendly search engines and powerful aggregators return mined information but fail to provide inside knowledge from the catalogers and bibliographers who built the "collection." Balancing web, print, and online subject databases delivers results to collaborative research and productive indexing as long as we use our minds in the process.
—Susan Hansen, Libn., Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY